Just as powerful as humanity’s urge to build sophisticated robots is our desire to beat the hell out of any metal monstrosity that crosses our path. These competing instincts—the need to invent and the need to destroy—have played out in an “anti-homeless” security bot being doused in barbecue sauce, the decapitation of the globe-trotting HitchBOT, and, in cinema, through stories that allow us to explore our conflicting feelings through tales regarding the terrors that lie within the mainframes of dancing robot dolls.
The most recent example, though, comes from Brisbane, Australia, where an expensive robot dog named Stampy was kicked in the head during its walk down the street.
As Vice’s Julie Fenwick explains, Stampy’s creator, Mark Trueno, decided to take the “dog” out for a walk in the early hours of Saturday morning in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley—an area known for its bars and clubs—in order to “test its obstacle avoidance and 3D mapping capabilities.”
As the video shows, Stampy was soon kicked in the head by a woman walking past the ungodly creature. Apparently dissatisfied with her initial attack, she returned half an hour later to give the beast another boot to the noggin.
Trueno, an engineer employed by “a company that provides equipment to mining and military companies” called Arrowpoint Systems, told Vice that Stampy is “a $15,000 piece of military grade equipment”—a smaller version of a robot design meant “to be used in dangerous conditions like search and rescue missions.”
Though the kicks to the head seem like they might’ve offered Trueno some good data on Stampy’s “obstacle avoidance” capabilities, the beating caused about $2,500 in damage and the loss of 3D mapping information. Because of this, Trueno took to the internet to request information about the woman, offering $500 as a reward.
In a real test of how far anyone might be willing to extend sympathy for his work, Trueno addressed the situation with a Facebook video entitled “Robot Lives Matter :(“ that shows Stampy’s stamping and an accompanying post that starts off with the same phrase. Still, his appeal worked. In a follow-up post from yesterday, Trueno explains that the woman who kicked Stampy contacted him and that “she sounds genuinely remorseful” for hitting the machine. “Given that she basically turned herself in,” the post continues, “it was discussed that the $500 reward could go towards a charity for animal abuse shelters.” Trueno also told Vice that the woman “almost broke a toe” from kicking Stampy and that the robot itself “did pretty well to stand up for it.”
All in all, it sounds like everything worked out all right for the robot dog. Which, surprisingly, seems to be a trend for many of the robot animals we’ve discussed in the past.
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